Some Preliminary Thoughts on the Acquisition of the Syntax and Semantics of wh-Constructions

by Taisuke Nishigauchi

This note discusses the basic properties of wh-constructions, especially multiple wh-constructions in English, focusing on the functional nature of wh-phrases in natural language. With this as backgrounds, we will examine the findings of Roeper and deVilliers' (1991) study of the acquisition of wh-questions. It will be claimed that Roeper and deVilliers' findings can be taken as evidence that young children initially interpret wh-phrases as the universal quantifier, or some strong determiner in the sense of Milsark (1974). It will be further claimed that this strategy makes the acquisition of wh-constructions, especially multiple wh-constructions, easier.

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